Ad agency owner broke his brain with drugs. Now he sees things you don’t.

Tom Matte positioning for ad agency new business

This is a lesson on positioning for ad agency new business.

I recently read the most extraordinary story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about an agency owner that I had to share. Not only because it is such a powerful story, but I know and have worked with the person that was being spotlighted, Tom Matte from Atlanta.

“Tom Matte’s story came to me from former AJC reporter Jim Auchmutey. The author of “Class of ‘65” was teaching a writing class in which Tom was a student, and Jim thought Tom’s story about his fall from grace and ultimate redemption had strong Personal Journeys appeal. He was right. What makes Tom’s story particularly unusual is the little something extra he got in the bargain.” Suzanne Van Atten, Personal Journeys editor for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of Tom’s story: 

Tom and his wife Christie, started a small agency together, specializing in business to business advertising with an emphasis on legal marketing. They found great success working with many of the top 100 law firms in the country.

Tom had been a recreational drug user since college but, it eventually turned habitual. In his late forty’s, Tom had a complete melt down to the degree that his wife and two sons wanted him out of the house. He walked out on everything he loved, losing his family and his agency.

He traveled the world, staying in luxury hotels and burned through $350,000 in only six months. Tom soon became homeless, psychotic and delusional. He was in desperate need of psychological help, but was unable to afford rehab.

After almost a year, Tom eventually made his way back to Georgia where he began the process of mending his mind and the relationship with his family. Tom hasn’t used cocaine in more than six years. The paranoia eventually receded, but something had changed in his brain. It rebooted itself like a massive upgrade. He now has the ability to receive and process more information (like having his own Wikipedia). He has new insights into mathematics, astrophysics and quantum physics, a subject he had little interest in previously. Tom’s like the Nobel Prize winning mathematical genius, John Nash , whose life story was the basis of the movie, “A Beautiful Mind.”

I was glad to know that Tom’s family has forgiven him for the suffering he caused. I’ve also learned that he is quickly rebuilding his career as a brand consultant and marketing strategist.

How do you find your way back from addiction, mental illness and severe depression and turn it into a selling point?

Tom started his brand consultancy 3 years ago. With all of his branding experience, he struggled in creating a unique positioning for his personal brand. There are thousands of other marketing consultants and he couldn’t use his illness to brand himself. But, Tom did have something unique that no one else could deliver. He just needed to claim it.

“My illness opened a door in my mind. It has somehow made me smarter. Infinitely more creative. My brain combines things in ways I would never have thought possible. It reimagines information and data in ways that would have made no sense before … My brain sees connections in things that go unnoticed to most people.”

Tom is getting attention for his amazing new gift:

  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution article, Head case: Tom Matte broke his brain with drugs. Now he sees things you don’t, is providing awareness and credibility for his positioning.
  • Tom has created a niche blog titled, Madness, Math and Marketing: Out of Your Mind Thinking.
  • He also has written a book, “Jesus Goes To Hollywood: A Memoir Of Madness,” that will be published later this year.

These things will demonstrate the uniqueness of Tom’s mind and create interest to innovative businesses who will want to take a deeper look. He is in the enviable position of having lost his mind and then finding it again. But now, he has more “mind” than he knows what to do with.

As I mentioned, I’ve worked with Tom and his wife Christie when they were owners Max Advertising, an agency in Atlanta. This is a powerful story. My Reader’s Digest version doesn’t do it justice. I encourage you to read the article and be sure you watch the video at the end. You will be enriched if you do. Head Case: Tom Matte broke his brain with drugs. Now he sees things you don’t

The following video is Tom’s interview by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Additional articles that may be of interest:

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

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